Nyeri is reaping the fruits of the Economic Stimulus Programme after it was declared the best county in fish farming— beating areas perceived as leading in production and consumption such as Kisumu and Homa Bay.
This is according to statistics from the Department of Fisheries presented by a don at Karatina University.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor in-charge of Academic, Research and Students Affairs, Prof Aloo Obudho, revealed this as she presided over a fishery stakeholders’ workshop organised by the university.
In 2012, Nyeri County produced more than 21,800 metric tonnes of fish from ponds compared to a mere 12,154 metric tonnes produced by the entire nation in 2010, the statistics show.
Prof Aloo, however, noted that aqua-culture in Kenya was still not very popular in other parts of the country although it was introduced more than 60 years ago and despite numerous efforts by the government to promote it.
In 2010, the government through the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) provided a total of Sh2 billion to help revitalise fish farming in the country.
According to the Nyeri County Director of Fisheries, Mr Julius Nyoro, the county has registered one of the highest adoption rates, with more than 60 per cent of the beneficiaries of ESP retaining the ponds funded by the government through the programme and even going ahead to build more from earnings from their fish farms.
William Kiama, who was a councillor before taking up aquaculture, urged Kenyans living in regions where the practice can thrive to diversify, terming it one of the most modern lucrative farming ventures.
Mr Kiama said he earns more than 450,000 shilling per acre of water surface in one season of six to eight months, which not many agricultural ventures can yield.
He, however, challenged local universities to offer farmers short courses in fish farming and aqua-management to bridge the gap between the ever growing number of fish farmers and strained extension services.
A fish trader in Nyeri, Titus Murage. noted that fish eating in Nyeri had become increasingly popular. Mr Murage said he sells more than 400 kilos of fish a day and asked more people to rear fish in order to meet rising demand for the delicacy.
Prof Aloo asked the government to invest more in fish farming so as to reduce over-reliance on stocks from the lakes that are getting depleted besides bringing closer the realisation of vision 2030.